Home > Life skills matter – not just points: A survey of implementation of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in second-level schools.

Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Roe, Sandra (2010) Life skills matter – not just points: A survey of implementation of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in second-level schools. Dublin: Government Publications.

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The aim of this study was to investigate the implementation of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in secondary schools in Ireland and to examine ways in which these programmes could be improved.

The study originated from recommendations arising from teenage delegates at the 2009 Dáil na nÓg (the National Youth Parliament) in relation to sex education and SPHE. These recommendations included:
• all young people should have access to sex education, which is appropriate to individual needs, comprehensive and varied in delivery;
• a structured SPHE course should be implemented for senior cycle students, incorporating positive mental health awareness and development of an on-line support service.

To explore these matters, members of the Dáil na nÓg Council (the group of young delegates elected to follow up during the year on recommendations made at Dáil na nÓg) were involved in developing two questionnaires – one aimed at investigating the implementation of SPHE among 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students, and one investigating the implementation of RSE among Transition Year, 5th and 6th year students. Members of the Dáil na nÓg Council were trained as Social Researchers and then conducted the research among Comhairlí at local level.

A total of 134 young people (aged 12-16) from 68 secondary schools in 12 different counties completed the questionnaire on the SPHE programme and 220 young people (aged 15-18) from 94 secondary schools in 13 different counties completed the questionnaire on the RSE programme.

The survey found that the majority of young people (88%) received SPHE classes in 2009 and that SPHE is timetabled as a class in almost all schools surveyed (97%). In contrast, almost three-quarters of young people (74%) did not receive RSE classes during the year and RSE is timetabled in only 15% of schools surveyed. The most emphasized theme in the SPHE syllabus was found to be ‘alcohol, drug and solvent use’, while the least emphasized theme was ‘decisions and people who influence me’. The most emphasized theme in the RSE syllabus was ‘healthy relationships’, while ‘understanding sexual orientation’ was the least emphasized theme.


Date:May 2010
Pages:56 p.
Publisher:Government Publications
Corporate Creators:Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
Place of Publication:Dublin
ISBN:978-1-4064-2498-0
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Electronic Only)
Subjects:J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Prevention by sponsor or setting > School based prevention
N Communication, information and education > Educational level > Secondary education level
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Prevention approach > Prevention through information and education
N Communication, information and education > Education by subject > Substance use education
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Health related prevention > Health information and education

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